McGrath wins primary to set up showdown with McConnell

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The day started out strong for Booker, who edged out McGrath for the Fayette Co. primary vote, and won in a landslide for the primary vote in Jefferson Co, propelling him to take the lead around 10:30 a.m.

Voting ended June 23, but it took a week until McGrath could be declared the victor due to the race's tight margins and a deluge of mail-in ballots.

In the closing weeks of the race, Booked tapped into the anger over police killings of African Americans, including Breonna Taylor, who was shot eight times after Louisville police officers used a battering ram to enter her apartment.

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The huge spending advantage was enough to hand the Democrat a narrow victory. The Associated Press declared her the victor with 89 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday afternoon, where she had a almost 9,500-vote advantage over Booker.

Ten candidates in total ran in the Democratic primary.

But now, the former congressional candidate who lost to GOP Congressman Andy Barr in 2018, faces a steeper uphill climb, as she aims to unseat the top Republican in Congress in a state President Donald Trump won by almost 30 points four years ago.

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Kentucky switched to widespread absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, and election officials needed days to count ballots.

Despite holding a clear front-runner status for the majority of the primary, McGrath - a 45-year-old retired lieutenant colonel who worked in Congress and at the Defense Department - also appeared to make an early misstep with Democrats last summer when she said she would have supported confirming Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. McGrath had been the most high-profile candidate, but Booker surged into contention with endorsements from progressive icons Sens.

"There can be no removal of Mitch McConnell without unity", she said in a statement after her win.

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McGrath will now face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who easily topped his Republican primary. "He's destroyed our institutions for far too long".

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Booker's campaign had not publicly commented on the outcome. She raised prodigious amounts of campaign cash that put her on equal footing with the always-well-funded McConnell.

Booker gained the backing of leading national progressives as he supported a universal basic income and Medicare for All - ideas that McGrath resisted.

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He also fully embraced a liberal agenda, including Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal, while McGrath offered somewhat more moderate policy prescriptions. McGrath favors a public option and a Medicare buy-in for those over the age of 55, rather than overhauling the USA health care system with a single-payer program.

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